Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Apple WWDC 2005 Keynote Reaction

Paul Thurrott has written up his take on the keynote with his, as usual, unique view: Paul Thurrott's Internet Nexus. Here is my take on the keynote. In general, I came away positive. Spotlight vs. WinFS. Suggesting that the bits Apple shipped yesterday where in some way a response to the PDC or any build of Longhorn is just insane. The kind of functionality Apple demonstrated yesterday with searching does not get built in the 8 months since PDC 2003, the first public talk about WinFS. Those bits hardly worked. My take so far, Apple's stuff works in their preview build, WinFS still doesn't fully work in any public preview build. Mac OS X. Man this is so easy to get correct, it's right on the slide in the keynote. Jobs said there are now 12 million Mac OS X users, 50% of the installed base. Here is some simple math, 2 x 12 is 24. SafariThis is completely subjective, but after running RSS Bandit on .NET for the last month, I have been thinking of building my own browser that unifies Bookmarks and RSS feeds right into a browser shell. Safari is also my favorite browser, I can't wait to get my hands on 2.0 with RSS. And the built in Spotlight search looks great. Core Image and Core Video. The demo in the keynote with a quick homegrown app called Funhouse on this functionality was hella good. As a developer, being able to apply quality motion effects and filters with it baked into the platform is very enticing. I have watched a bunch of stuff on Longhorn Aero and Avalon, I don't remember seeing mention of funtionality like this. Just because MS is going to draw the UI and do compositing with the GPU on your applications behalf is not the same as giving you filters and effects to use in your apps and doing all the hard work for you using the GPU, which is what Apple is doing. Dashboard I totally want this functionality. It's nice that the guys at Konfabulator have a similar implementation, but I am not paying $25 to get this, sorry. I wonder if there is some bad blood between Apple and the Konfabulator guy? That's no excuse, Apple should just dump some money on this guy from a PR standpoint. Automator. Can't wait to get my hands on this to see just how much I can automate with Visual Scripting. This is just about as close as anything I have seen to answering one of the big issues of CLI guys with GUIs, no way to make the output of one app the input of another without code or some intermediary like files. iChat. I love iChat. This functionality is amazing, 10 people audio conference and 3 + me video conferencing, and it even looks like we are all looking at each other. The really big deal is the H.264 codec. iChat with the iSight was already really good quality, this looks seriously better. My only complaint with iChat is the AOL only integration. I hope that's changing, the iChat icon lost the AOL buddy. It just speculation at this point, but I hope. Tiger. I can't wait to get my hands on this release. My only true disappoinment was no Xcode 2.0 demo yesterday.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Wish List for the Apple Retail Stores

I was in the San Francisco Apple Store yesterday, and started talking to one of the employees, Zo I believe. One thing he had obviously put some thought into, he told me he used to work at Liquid Audio, was the need for kiosks that you could jack you iPod into and get new music instantly. This would be awesome. Imagine that you are on a road trip, or walking around the city, and you want some new music on your iPod. Unless you have a wireless laptop with you and find an access point, you can do this, but what if your traveling light, just your iPod. You go to any number of outlets, like ATMs, and get new music. This would totally rock. You don't have to limit the kiosks to just Apple Stores, but it's such an obvious synergy, you gotta start there. One stumbling block, Apple must reverse themselves about pulling music off the iPod to whatever computer you use, no small task, so that this works end-to-end. I think Apple is leaving a lot of money on the table not having Apple branding swag in the retail stores. Mugs, T-shirts, keychains, yo-yo's, the possibilities are endless. Apple has one of the most well known and regarded brands, this is such a no-brainer I am stunned it hasn't happened already.

Movie: Spartan

Watched Spartan last night, the David Mamet written and directed thriller starring Val Kilmer. I picked this up at the video store cause Val was the star. Some might think, Val Kilmer, what happened to that guy and why rent anything he is starring in? I have liked Val Kilmer because of Top Secret!, Top Gun, Willow, Tombstone (his performance here always makes me laugh), and Batman Forever. The flick was definitely entertaining, I would recommend the rental, in part because it didn't feel like a typical thriller to me, dialogue is really different than typical hollywood flicks and the meat of the story isn't revealed until about 40 minutes in, but I was hooked the whole time. I am not a David Mamet fan. I rented The Spanish Prisoner a while back, and really disliked it, probably for the same reasons I liked this, but go figure, I guess Steve Martin in that didn't really work for me. If I had realized that Spartan was by the same guy when in the video store, I probably wouldn't have rented it. Glad I was pleasently surprised.

Joel, MS, and APIs Oh My!

Joel on Software really stirred up a hornets nest with his How Microsoft lost the API war article. Scoble as usual has done a commendable job linking to some of the best response commentaries here. The problem I always run into when pitching rich .NET client apps to customers is the fact that the .NET runtime is only built into one shipping version of Windows, Windows Server 2003, which doesn't do a thing for client machines. When I explain to customers that in addition to deploying our app we have to deploy the Framework, it is always a major stumbling block. If we require the Framework on the client, are we then as the developers guarenteeing that installing this will not break anything else in Windows or the users apps? That is certainly the implication since MS hasn't figured out a way to get it on to every Windows release supported on the Framework, true or not. I know, how can MS entice users to get these bits installed? A sticky situation, but if they wanted to rejuvenate "rich" apps vs. "reach" apps, here is my proposal. .NET runs on everything from Win 98 up (Redistributable requirements here). Spend some of that $56 billion cash horde and produce one more service pack for everything Win 98 and higher, roll in all current security fixes and backport at a minimum the Windows Firewall from XP SP2, and distribute the .NET runtime with the package. Take a page out of the AOL playbook and carpetbomb the world with these CDs. You solve 2 problems: Trojan attack vectors drastically reduced, and .NET for brand new rich client API on a large portion of Windows machines. Is this feasible from a business standpoint? Don't know, but if anyone can do this, MS can.

Let's Get Started

I don't know if this is the obligatory first blog post, everyone does it kind of like a superhero origin story, but here goes. I am a software developer and systems engineer for the last 9 years, all on the MS Windows stack of various versions. I have been a home user of MS product for the last 14 years. My first computer though was an Apple IIc, which I have very found memories of. Here is some history on the Apple IIc: http://www.apple2history.org/history/ah08.html I haven't had an Apple computer since the IIc until Dec '03, when I got an iBook G4. This blog will be about my experiences and opinions using the iBook, developing software and using Windows, and anything else that I find intersting, like movies and video games. Enjoy, Dave